From a man behind the badge to bad guys, actor and director Giancarlo Esposito has played them all for more than 45 years. His acting career began on Broadway when he was 8 years old and he hasn’t looked back.
Esposito’s first film was Taps but his breakout role was his portrayal of Buggin’ Out in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. The movie brought racial barriers in Brooklyn, N.Y. to the forefront on the big screen. His Buggin’ Out character is all about the black man and doesn’t understand why Sal’s Famous Pizzeria doesn’t have African-American pictures hanging next to famous Italian celebs on the restaurant’s walls. He decides to boycott the restaurant with two of his friends and causes chaotic upheaval.
This prolific movie is celebrating its 25-year anniversary and was watched by a sold-out crowd during the 23rd Annual Florida Film Festival, followed by a question-and-answer session with Esposito.
Esposito said, “it has been 25 years since Do the Right Thing was made and I feel so honored to be talking about it. I learned a lot from Spike Lee. He really opened a lot of doors for so many black, white and Asian artists and showed us self expression.”
He shared that Do the Right Thing was filmed on a block in Brooklyn that was completely a mess and burned out with crack houses. The block was transformed into a Hollywood set and the cast were really into it but knew that the area was very violent and recalled hearing gun fire when they filmed at night.
Esposito provided the audience with his insights about film and acting. “There was magic happening and a number of us moved to Brooklyn because we were committed. If you’re in it, then you can’t really judge because you’re serving up and honoring the word and other actors. It doesn’t matter if it’s a flop. You have done your best to make it a great experience for all involved and yourself.”
He shared some humorous moments with Lee, including how he caught the diehard New York Mets fan wearing New York Yankees gear at a Yankee game. He said Lee got tired of the Mets losing and switched to the Yankees because they’re winners.
Esposito’s iconic role was portraying evil meth lord Gustavo “Gus” Fring on Breaking Bad. He said the meth lab was real and cost a half-million dollars. He revealed that “Gus was a very complicated guy that cultivated and cared about people. He had the laundry, chicken places and the meth stuff going on and was outstanding and respected and supported humanity.”
Esposito’s acting career is being recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 29, 2014. His longtime friend Timothy Hutton will be speaking at the ceremony. For more information, visit walkoffame.com.